News and Press Releases

Three Portland, Oregon Residents Indicted in Las Vegas For Federal Prostitution & Money Laundering Crimes

March 5, 2003

Las Vegas, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, Michael D. Schrunk, District Attorney of Multnomah County, Oregon, Clark County Sheriff Bill Young of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Mark A. Kroeker, Chief of Police for the Portland, Oregon Police Bureau, and Byram Tichenor, Special Agent-in-Charge of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation for Nevada, announce that JONATHAN DUKE FLAKE/aka Caribbean/aka Corey Robinson, age 31, BREANNA NELSON/aka Sara Page, age 19, and MEARENET BIADEGELEGNE/aka Katrina Scott, age 21, all residents of both the Las Vegas, Nevada, and Portland, Oregon areas, have been charged by the Grand Jury sitting in the United States District Court in Las Vegas with allegedly participating in a prostitution business that operated in Las Vegas and laundered money through bank accounts in Portland, Oregon.

FLAKE was charged with Transportation of Females for Prostitution, Transportation of Minors for Prostitution, Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, and Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering; NELSON and BIADEGELEGNE were charged with Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering. Transportation of persons across state lines for the purposes of prostitution is a federal crime. Although prostitution is legal in many counties in Nevada, it is illegal in Clark County, in which Las Vegas is located.

The Indictment, returned on March 5, 2003, states that on August 20, 2001, FLAKE transported Taejon Townshend from Portland, Oregon, to Las Vegas, Nevada, with the intent that Townshend engage in prostitution or other sexual activity; and that on October 26 and October 27, 2001, FLAKE transported a minor from Portland, Oregon, to Las Vegas for the same purpose. In order to disguise the source of the cash earned from the prostitution business, all three defendants are alleged to have participated in making currency and check deposits in Las Vegas, Nevada, to a Portland, Oregon bank account, totaling almost $30,000, and are alleged to have used those monies to purchase a vehicle and pay for other expenses.

If convicted, defendant FLAKE is facing up to 10 years imprisonment on the count involving transportation of females for prostitution; up to 15 years imprisonment on the count involving transportation of a minor for prostitution; up to 20 years in prison on the money laundering conspiracy count; and up to five years in prison on the interstate travel in aid of racketeering count. Defendants NELSON and BIADEGELEGNE are facing up to 20 years in prison on the money laundering conspiracy count. Additionally, a maximum fine of $500,000 can be imposed on the money laundering count, and fines of $250,000 can be imposed on each of other counts. The actual sentence, however, will be dictated by the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors and will be imposed at the discretion of the Court.

The case was investigated by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, the Portland Police Bureau, and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Howard Zlotnick

U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden states, "this investigation and prosecution is an example of how local and federal law enforcement and prosecutors can work together to interrupt interstate crime. This District has, and will continue to, vigorously prosecute individuals involved in money laundering and the transportation of persons across state lines for prostitution, particularly juveniles. The information sharing between local and federal agencies is crucial to these prosecutions and has been exceptional in this case."

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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